Big Screen Batman Review – “Batman Begins”

Big Screen Batman weeks ends with one heck of a bang.
I’ve joined the chorus of critics who are calling this
the best Batman movie ever. This is the best movie
I’ve seen in theaters this year.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman

Michael Caine as Alfred

Liam Neeson as Ducard

Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes

Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon

Cillian Murphy as Dr. Jonathan Crane

Tom Wilkinson as Carmine Falcone

Rutger Hauer as Earle

Ken Watanabe as Ra’s Al Ghul

Mark Boone Junior as Flass

Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox

Written by David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Complete information is available from the
IMDB
.

Past movie reviews can be found here.

Premise

Bruce Wayne is on a personal quest to become a
guardian who stands
between evil and the good people in the city he loves.
A man named
Ducard offers him the training needed to become that
guardian, just in
time to face Ra’s Al Ghul and the Scarecrow.

High Point

Batman’s greatest tool isn’t a cape, car, grapple, or
batarang.
Batman’s greatest tool is fear.

Low Point

Humans do have a lot of water in them, you know.

The Scores

Batman’s been on the big screen several times over the
last 60 years
or so, and this is the first time someone got it
right. That, plus
the coherent, intertwined tapestry of origins counts
for a lot in
originality, overcoming much of the “nth
adaptation of same
source material” deficit. I give it 4 out of 6.

The effects were excellent. They were
generally seamless,
and they never seemed to be the point of the shot. In
other words,
visual effects were used for the sole purpose of
telling a story.
Only the bat swarms seemed a bit off, with the bats
appearing just a
bit too blurred as they moved. Aside from that, I
can’t tell where
the props, sets, and actors end and the visual effects
begin. (Well,
aside from the full city images, but that’s just
because I know they’d
have to be CGI, and not because they look CGI.) I
give it 6 out of 6.

The story is dead on. The origin story is
accelerated,
dwelling on just the details which are unique to this
version. The
rest of the story also ties together nicely, weaving
all of the
characters and threads together to create an
interesting narrative
that works as a film even without a cultural icon as
the lead
character. I give 5 out of 6.

The acting was great. I don’t have any
complaints, even
about a single expression or the delivery of a single
line. Bale
showed some excellent range, from the goofy playboy,
to the angry
interrogator, to the slightly drunken party host.
Everyone else was
similarly well cast, and the deliveries were bang on
target. I give
it 6 out of 6.

The emotional response is fantastic. They
nailed it. They
recognize that Batman is the character, and that Bruce
Wayne is the
mask he wears so that he can continue to do his job,
and they write
the character that way from start to finish. The
relationship between
Batman and the world of Gotham is represented
beautifully. Live
action Batman has never been this perfect. I give it
6 out of 6.

The production was also fantastic. A city
was created at its
peak, and at its lowest moment. The pacing and
lighting were
excellent, and the score was very well assembled.
(Batman’s theme
music belongs on cellos.) I give it 6 out of 6.

Overall, this is a great movie. I’ll repeat
what I said
above: live action Batman has never been this perfect.
I give it 6
out of 6.

In total, Batman Begins receives 39 out of
42.

15 replies on “Big Screen Batman Review – “Batman Begins””

  1. obiwan says:

    I’d minus points for originality
    Ok it was really cool. But I keep getting the feeling deja vu from 1989. Picture this:
    Bruce Wayne’s girlfriend is surprised to face the Evil Bad Guy (who is incidentally hatching a plan to poison Gotham’s residents with a nasty chemical), but Batman drops in to save the day by whisking her off in the Batmobile and takes her to the Batcave, where he gives the girl all she needs to combat the poison, and then makes her unconscious, and she wakes up at home and wonders who the masked crusader was. Familiar?

    • pythor says:

      Re: I’d minus points for originality

      Ok it was really cool. But I keep getting the feeling deja vu from 1989. Picture this:
      Bruce Wayne’s girlfriend is surprised to face the Evil Bad Guy (who is incidentally hatching a plan to poison Gotham’s residents with a nasty chemical), but Batman drops in to save the day by whisking her off in the Batmobile and takes her to the Batcave, where he gives the girl all she needs to combat the poison, and then makes her unconscious, and she wakes up at home and wonders who the masked crusader was. Familiar?

      I agree (see my other post), the story would have been just as good, if not better, if they had resisted the temptation to include a love interest. As half-heartedly as they set it up, I have to wonder if it was bolted on late in the script development process.

    • y42 says:

      Re: I’d minus points for originality

      Ok it was really cool. But I keep getting the feeling deja vu from 1989. Picture this:
      Bruce Wayne’s girlfriend is surprised to face the Evil Bad Guy (who is incidentally hatching a plan to poison Gotham’s residents with a nasty chemical), but Batman drops in to save the day by whisking her off in the Batmobile and takes her to the Batcave, where he gives the girl all she needs to combat the poison, and then makes her unconscious, and she wakes up at home and wonders who the masked crusader was. Familiar?

      I enjoyed it. I felt like they were doing it to insist that that they aren’t trashing the 89 flick by making this new kickass one : )

  2. pythor says:

    Canon?
    Can anyone answer for me how close this origin is to DC canon? I’m a infrequent Batman reader, but I thought that this was the best, most well thought-out origin story that I’ve seen. I was absolutely impressed by the whole movie.

    The Low Point did jar with me a little, and was unfortunately a major part of the plot. The girl seemed a little out of place, though. She’s not a character I recognised, and wasn’t given enough screen time at the begining to set her up in the role they gave her at the end. And for the DA, I would have been very pleased to see a pre-Two Face Harvey Dent.

    I still agree that this was the best on-screen Batman I’ve seen.

    • chad says:

      Re: Canon?

      Can anyone answer for me how close this origin is to DC canon?

      Oh, let’s see…

      • Bruce did not go to the opera with his parents, he went to see the film Zorro.
      • The police did not catch his parents’ murderer. In fact, there is an old comic where Batman finds the criminal years after the murders. Along the same line, Bruce did not attempt to kill the murderer when he was released from jail.
      • Ra’s Al Ghul did not train Bruce; rather, he trained under a variety of different teachers who were later all killed by Ra’s Al Ghul in an attempt to get Batman’s attention.
      • Ra’s Al Ghul is not Asian or Caucasian. He is of Arab descent.
      • I am not sure that Ra’s Al Ghul heads the league of assassins as portrayed in the movie. He is simply a very evil and powerful man who butts heads with Batman a lot.
      • Ra’s Al Ghul is effectively immortal, as he has a process which will bring him back to life after he dies—and he has some very, very devoted minions who ensure that this always happens.
      • In the mid-1980’s Batman was redefined by DC comics. He is no longer the driven do-gooder as portrayed in the movie, nor was he consumed by his fear as portrayed in the movie. The death of his parents led to a form of psychotic breakdown, and he is essentially as deranged as the criminals he fights. But his insanity has taken the form of crime-fighting rather than criminal activities.

      These are just the ones that come off the top of my head, and I’m not a Batman expert by any stretch of the imagination. You may find it interesting to read the Batman: Year One graphic novel, and I especially recommend Batman: The Dark Knight Returns as a must-read for any Batman fan.

      • Timeshredder says:

        Re: Canon?

        In the mid-1980’s Batman was redefined by DC comics. He is no longer the driven do-gooder as portrayed in the movie, nor was he consumed by his fear as portrayed in the movie. The death of his parents led to a form of psychotic breakdown, and he is essentially as deranged as the criminals he fights. But his insanity has taken the form of crime-fighting rather than criminal activities.

        Dark Knight seems to take this point of view. The mainstream “reboot” was more ambivalent, and it is fair to say that many comics portray him as a “driven do-gooder,” even if a somwhat disturbed one.

  3. obiwan says:

    Alfred rocks
    Michael Caine is just so much fun to watch as the polite yet slightly cynical Alfred :).

  4. Blackadder says:

    Note to Lucas
    Dear Mr Lucas,
    After watching Liam Neeson’s performance in the role of mentor I would like to point out that this actor actually has some ability. I would have thought that you might have noticed that he could act after Schindler’s List (One of the many movies Spielberg made without you). I would also go on to comment about the use of effects to TELL THE STORY and actually having a PLOT THAT WORKS but I am sure that after seeing Batman Begins you would know that by now.

    • Timeshredder says:

      just got back….

      I especially liked the first half, and the way they handled the character. My Low Point would be the excessive scenes of mass destruction, which went beyond what I felt they required– but I suppose people expect that in a summer action movie. And yet, the rest of the film proved you don’t need quite so many Disaster Movie outtakes to make a superhero film work.

      However, definitely the best cinematic Batman yet. I look forward to the sequels.

  5. octa says:

    Not all muscle
    I really enjoyed it. My only dissapointment was that this movie, like the other movies, didn’t touch on Batman as the great detective that we all know and love from the comics/animated series. I hope they reveal this in the sequels.

    • Timeshredder says:

      Re: Not all muscle

      I wondered about that, too. The movie’s version of Lucius Fox helps explain a few things, but the movie overall ends up underplaying the intellectual side of Batman. Still, if any superhero movie deserves a sequel and time to develop the character, it’s this one.

      • y42 says:

        Re: Not all muscle

        I wondered about that, too. The movie’s version of Lucius Fox helps explain a few things, but the movie overall ends up underplaying the intellectual side of Batman.

        Who’s buying those shares? Trusts and whatnot… it’s all very technical ;-)

        • Alexius says:

          Re: Not all muscle

          I wondered about that, too. The movie’s version of Lucius Fox helps explain a few things, but the movie overall ends up underplaying the intellectual side of Batman.

          Who’s buying those shares? Trusts and whatnot… it’s all very technical ;-)

          Yeah, But They Didn’t Show It. They Just Kinda Throw In A ‘By The Way, He’s Smart, Too.’

  6. spincycle says:

    Batman?
    Wow, you all sound like you actually went for the story.

    Sheesh.

    Katie Holmes is the main reason, as far as I can tell.

    Too bad about the scientology insanity, though.

    • Alexius says:

      Re: Batman?

      Katie Holmes is the main reason, as far as I can tell.

      If All You Want Are Breasts And Cute Face, You Can Find those All Over The Internet. No Need To Shell Out However Much Theaters Gouge Us For Nowadays To watch Them Keep their Clothes On.

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